IN THIS CHAPTER
Exploring the elements
Laying down the ground rules of metal removal
From steels to superalloys: Exploring metals
Playing around with plastics
As well might it be said that, because we are ignorant of the laws by which metals are produced and trees developed, we cannot know anything of the origin of steamships and railways.
—ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE
Read any trade publication, attend any seminar, and you’ll soon find that machining is all about material removal. But what is this thing called material? If you’re a construction worker, you might pick up some building material at the lumber yard. Seamstresses go shopping for material at the fabric store. Material handling equipment lifts heavy loads, while material handlers stock shelves and fill orders.
In the machining world, the word “material” most often refers to metal. The rusty low-carbon-steel lawn chair you sat on during the barbeque last weekend is one example of metallic material, as is the 303-stainless-steel toaster on your kitchen counter.
Plastics are also important, however, ...